How To Cook Asparagus

And enjoy this beautiful vegetable!

When you know how to cook asparagus you will have a beautiful vegetable to include in your family meals as it is very versatile as well as tasty.

I assure you that this little vegetable will make a big impression on guests as well.

how to cook asparagusHow To Cook Asparagus

How Many Kinds Of Asparagus Are There

There are many types of asparagus that can be grown, but most often it is a variety of green asparagus that is available in food stores and markets in France and around the world. But, the white variety is also becoming more popular in many countries. 

There is also a purple variety which like the green asparagus grows above the soil. But white asparagus which is becoming more popular because it is said to have a milder and more delicate flavor, is cultivated by covering the asparagus as it grows. This method prevents the spears from photosynthesizing as they develop and does not produce green plants.

You may also find wild asparagus from time to time as well, if not growing uncultivated along a roadside, at a market.

How To Buy Asparagus

When buying this beautiful vegetable, look at it carefully and make sure it is tender and not limp as this will not be fresh.

You will need about five spears of asparagus for each person.

How To Serve Asparagus

Once cooked it is delicious eaten just as it is on its own either hot or cold. But here are a few suggestions to dress it up a little.

  • If eaten hot, it can be served with a condiment such as Hollandaise Sauce or a lemon sauce (see below for a quick lemon sauce recipe), in fact, whatever sauce you prefer.
  • Another very easy and delicious method is to serve it with warm melted butter and a little salt and pepper.
  • To serve it cold, simply make a vinaigrette or French dressing, a mustard dressing or a good quality mayonnaise – so tasty.

white and green asparagusWhite & Green Asparagus

How To Prepare Asparagus Spears For Cooking

NOTE: To prepare the asparagus for cooking, I have amended this portion of the preparation of asparagus, because the bend and snap method wastes so much of this wonderful vegetable.

(This is the original instruction: First, hold each spear by each end and bend until it snaps; they will break at the divide between the tender shoots and the tougher stems near the root. You may have been instructed this way before.)

But now I recommend doing it this way.

  • Determine where the end feels most firm and cut off the tougher amount at the bottom to leave the most tender length. You may want to peel or scrape a couple of inches up from the bottom if the "skin" feels like it might be tough or stringy.

  • If the asparagus spears have a tough skin right up to the tip end then they can be peeled or scraped all the way up. The fat ones are easier to handle and there will be less waste with these and they taste just as lovely.

  • If you feel they must be peeled then a sharp knife is best for scraping them, in fact it is much better than using a vegetable peeler as it takes a thicker peel. But, I seldom have to peel mine.

  • If you would like a nicer presentation for guests, simply trim the ends to make the spears all the same length. (But don't through out that valuable piece of asparagus. Saute it with butter for a delicious side dish for the family.)
  • Once they are prepared, wash the spears in a bowl of cold water, or rinse under running water and drain them.

  • For easier handling take a few spears and tie them with cooking string near the tip and near the butt end. Use this method of prep for Recipe 1 and 3.

How To Cook Asparagus: 5 Methods

1. Boiled Asparagus Recipe

  • Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and place the asparagus in it then lower the heat and cook gently for about fifteen minutes until tender. You can test by inserting the sharp end of a knife into the butt end.

  • Drain them well and let them sit for a minute to allow the moisture to evaporate a little.

2. Cooking From Frozen

  • If using frozen asparagus, simply allow to thaw a little before cooking and only use a small amount of water as in your pot to which you have added a little salt and about a tablespoon of butter.

  • Cook on medium/low heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes or until tender.

3. Steamed Asparagus Recipe

This method & #4 are the methods I use most often.

  • Steam the asparagus in a steamer that allows the spears to remain out of the water and only cooked with hot steam.

  • It will not take longer than immersing the spears in the water, but depends on the thickness of the spears.

4. Sauteed Asparagus Recipe

I love asparagus cooked this way!

  • After drying the asparagus well, melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a pan.

  • Saute the asparagus turning often, until it is the firmness you like.

5. Grilled Asparagus Recipe -from Chef Raymond Blanc

  1.  Prepare the asparagus spears as above, then blanche them in boiling water for just 3 minutes.
  2.  Remove and plunge them into a bowl of iced/cold water, this helps them to keep their colour.
  3. Lie 5 spears side by side, and spear them with a wooded skewer, top and bottom, to keep them together.
  4. Repeat this with the rest of the spears, then place on a hot griddle for 3 minutes on each side...that's plenty.
  5. Remove skewers and serve immediately.

How To Make A Lemon Sauce For Vegetables

First, start with a

Drawn Butter Sauce

  • Cook to a smooth paste two tablespoons of butter that has been melted and add two tablespoons of flour.
  • Add two cups of cold water slowly, and cook until thick stirring constantly.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

Lemon Sauce For Vegetables

  • Prepare a pint of Drawn-Butter Sauce according to directions above.
  • Season with salt, pepper, grated nutmeg, and the juice of one lemon, and add half a cup of melted butter, stir well.
  • Pour over your vegetables.

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